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The Left is dancing on Margaret Thatcher’s grave… so why am I smiling?

Every time I read of drunken noisy celebrations from assorted people following Margaret Thatcher’s death… every time I read of someone spewing vitriol and spitting on her memory… every time I read “Ding Dong The Witch is Dead“… my smile grows ever so slightly wider.

Why? Well I think I may have given a clue why I was likely to think this way a few days ago when I wrote this:

I would not have described myself as a libertarian back then even though I more or less was (and indeed I was only vaguely aware of the term, preferring ‘Classical Liberal’ in the non-debased non-US sense). And I still do not call myself one really, even though I more or less am. But for more than a decade I did indeed take delight in calling myself a Thatcherite (even though I only ‘kinda’ was), primarily because it was a wonderful shortcut for discovering all I needed to know about whoever I was speaking to at that time, just by watching their reactions.

Maggie Thatcher pissed off all the right people and I swung her name around like a handbag with a brick in it.

Before Margaret Thatcher took power, we had a Tory party lead by Edward Health… a man who was frankly so indistinguishable from the people he purported to oppose that his ‘conservative’ government nationalised several businesses. The broad statist political consensus amongst the Great and the Good (try not to spit when you read those words) was that the only thing to argue about was the rate at which the state took over, well, everything.

The Flat Caps and Beer Party and the Champagne and Barbour Party carried on a wonderful pantomime show of how they disdained each other and how they were like chalk and cheese, much as they do now, but in truth, it disguised just how much they had in common. Free(er) Markets were a talking point amongst some Tories but in truth they loved to intervene “before breakfast, dinner and tea”.

And then Maggie T started talking about free(er) markets and actually meaning it.

She polarised the Party and the country and that was exactly what was needed. She smashed the cosy consensus, over and over and over again… and many people hated her for it, which means it actually did some good.

And now, the late Margaret Hilda Thatcher is doing it again.

What we have at the moment is a toxic political consensus. We are all the same, we are all in agreement and (whispered aside) don’t worry, those ‘cuts’ in state spending are really just cuts in the rate of increase. You can trust David Cameron with the regulatory welfare state. And indeed you can.

Ok long suffering Middle England, just watch those people on the news and in the papers. And then look at that pallid ‘Conservative’ toad in Number 10 who has de facto nationalised Britain’s leading banks. Does he remind you of someone?

There are still neo-Thatcherites in the Tory party (David Davies most prominently) and then there is always the Joker in the deck of British politics, Nigel Farage, whose admiration for Maggie T has always been obvious even if she dropped the ball on Europe (as did many of us).

But there are few things better at flipping that switch in people’s heads than seeing unedifying hatred from people who reek of naked greed for the state extracted money of others.

And so every time I see people pouring out their bile for Thatcher, I smile and hope there is a TV camera around or a journalist happy to write down what they say. By their own words, they shall be revealed.

Oh Margaret, you really were the gift that just keeps on giving.

27 comments to The Left is dancing on Margaret Thatcher’s grave… so why am I smiling?

  • AngryTory

    “dropped the ball on Europe”?

    For St George’s sake, she pushed the Single European ACT through parliament – the single biggest betrayal of sovereignty in the UK since 1066.

    Thatcher also believed in global warming – not pro global warming link Monckton, but anti-global warming like the IPCC.

    Thatcher never cut benefits and though she hated the NHS and never used it herself, she didn’t cut it either.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    I wish I could feel as positive as you Perry. Frankly I’m exhausted and royally fed up.

    Trying to take on board Brian’s comments about repeating the truth over and over (instead of resorting to my usual pessimism) I took to my local newspaper comments section to wage war on the Thatcher gloaters. I wish I hadn’t bothered. They ignore or wilfully misconstrue what you say, and when enough of them gather to ignore or misconstrue your points (all the while patting one another on the back for their right-on views) they seem to think they win the argument by sheer force of numbers. If you argue with facts, they simply deny your facts are true. If you provide references, they change the subject and talk about something else. If you get fed up of arguing with them, or if your comments get stuck in moderation-mode, they keep posting gloating statements about how they won long after you stop replying. Then all their pals join in and congratulate them on their awesome victory.

    But you know what really gets me? The sneering smugness of them. The way they dispense put downs like saying you have “off the wall views” as if that is some sort of rebuttal to your arguments. The way they use an appeal to their definition of common sense as if it were incontrovertible.

    They have the self-assuredness of people who have been on the winning side of the argument for a long time. The country is run by people such as these, and certainly for people such as these.

    I’m sick of the way engaging with such people makes me feel. It gives me a kind of reverse entitlement mentality – the opposite of what socialist politics plays to. They feel like the world owes them a living and feel hard-done-by when things don’t go their way. I feel like the world should leave me the **** alone, and when it doesn’t I feel tremendously hard-done-by.

    Arguing with these smug gits just reminds me of how far from being commonly accepted simple points like “minding one’s own business” truly are in this country.

  • For St George’s sake, she pushed the Single European ACT through parliament – the single biggest betrayal of sovereignty in the UK since 1066.

    I was in favour of that too at the time actually. I was sure it would lead to a ‘race to the bottom’ for regulation and frankly I was not really all that concerned with where that was driven from, as the only sovereignty I get all het up over is mine. Of course we (Maggie and I) were completely wrong about what would happen as it turned out, no denying that.

    But I am not against the EU because it reduces UK sovereignty, but rather what it does with that sovereignty. We had full blown kleptocratic socialism under Labour with bastards like Wilson, and the NHS is a home grown monstrous carbuncle, so it is not like the UK and its sainted sovereign Parliament was not capable of fucking it all up gloriously without the EU.

  • Kenneth Boulding used to say that the three binding forces in societies are love, greed, and fear. It occurred to me just lately that those are also the three drivers for the evils of faction in a democracy, against which James Madison warned: The desire to do good for people one cares about with someone else’s money, the desire to benefit oneself with someone else’s money, and the desire to punish other people for daring to have money in the first place. Naked greed is certainly there, but let’s not forget naked sappiness and naked envy and spite.

  • Charlotte Jackson

    Re the Single European Act, see Christoper Booker writing on the Eureferendum Blog (for obvious reasons, as you will see). He argues that Mrs Thatcher was misled by Howe, FCO, and the ‘European Colleagues’ about its true intention.

    I remember reading an article by Nicholas Ridley in the Spectator at the time, where he argued for the Single European Act: that it only made the single market work better, not that it was stepping towards a superstate.

    My worries were allayed by that article, I thought (and still think) he was one of the good guys, but it was the last time I was fooled.

  • JohnB

    I get the feeling that the real rulers play a game of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee to cover the actual agenda and keep us all wrong footed.
    Margaret Thatcher’s great crime was to not go along with the game, to the extent that she did not.
    Regarding that agenda, who stands most to gain by keeping the workers solidly focussed in their identity as “the workers”?

    Sorry I missed your excellent previous post: “I was a Thatcherite”. I absolutely agree, more or less.
    We are definitely back in Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum territory. The current collectivist “rage” has strong 1970s tones about it. The lying demons have been fighting their way out of the box ever since they were put in and seem to have achieved that.
    And where the truth (reality) is despised the wheels must inevitably come off.
    Will we get a second chance?

    Margaret Thatcher – a great lady who did not turn her back on the truth any more than she had to.

  • Paul Marks

    The Marxist Comrade Carson (and if anyone doubts he is a Marxist, although of a “vulgar” kind, see his post on American Tax Day today) and the usual Unholy Alliance of the “libertarian left” and the Racial Nationalists, are celebrating Mrs T.s over on another blog. There has been smear post. after smear post – some republished in the “Independent” newspaper and other leftist places.

    With enemies like these, Mrs T. can not have been all bad.

    As for the attacks here.

    “Mrs T. signed the Single European Act”.

    So the lady did – Mrs T. was told by the entire establishment that it was a free trade and open market measure.

    Only paranoid people (such as a then young person by the name of Paul Marks) argued that it was not really about the free markt, but that it would open the flood gates to endless Euro regulations.

    What was Mrs Thatcher supposed to do – follow the advice of angry letters (which most likely never even got to her), or follow the advice of the all the experts?

    Easy with hidesight – not so easy at the time.

    “Global Warming” – much the same. But also see Christopher Booker in the Sunday Telegraph for Mrs T.s changing opinions on that matter.

    As for government spending……

    Some people (such as a certain hotheaded person I see in the mirror each day) were attacking the government for its failures to control government spending right from 1979 (“for ….. sake, do not accept the Labour government’s pay deals, let us FIGHT….”).

    However, every step of the way of the way (every day for more than 11 years) Mrs T. was attacked by the entire establishment (led by the education system and the broadcasters – but including the Church of England and so on) for NOT SPENDING ENOUGH.

    People really had to “be there” – or at least read some real history.

    Real history is biography (the form professional historians hate most) – the pressures an actual person in office faced at the time.

    I look forward to Charled Moore’s biography of Mrs T. – because, even though his pro Cameron (a massive blind spot) Mr Moore is a honest man, and has had access to the papers.

    There is no substitute for the primary sources – there I do agree with the profesional historians.

    For example, the work that people Churchill College Cambridge has done has been very interesting.

    Such as the fact that some of Mrs T. attacks upon the “totalitarians” are close to the sermons that her father (a Methodist Lay Preacher) gave many years before – sometimes almost word-for-word.

    In the “Road To Serfdom” F.A. Hayek says a lot of nice things about human freedom, and natural rights – natural law. However, Hayek did not really believe these things (at least not in a normal way – Hayek never really freed himself from the Logical Positivism and Legal Positivism of 1900s Vienna, much as he attacked Hans Kelson and so on). But Mr Roberts (Margaret’s father) REALLY DID believe these things.

    There used to be a saying – the Labour party was more “Methodist than Marxist” (how that fitted people like Harold Laski I leave to others to work out). But Charles Wesley was not an interventionist – he was a conservative and a passionate believer in human freedom (there is no contradiction – as Frank Meyer explained).

    Indeed with her stress on personal moral responibilty and the CHOICE between good and evil, Mrs T. was very much in the tradition of Charles Wesley (an enemy of Predestination).

    Indeed Mrs T. always remained (at heart) Margaret Roberts – part of a tradition of pro freedom thought that streached back to Charles Wesley to Roger Bacon and (perhaps) to Pelagius.

  • NickM

    Perry’s comment. I couldn’t agree more. Scapegoating the EU misses the entire point that we don’t need Europe to feck things up royally on our own. Moreover the very commonplace idea amongst the right that leaving the EU is some sort of panacea is totally wrong. Arthur Scargill was contra the EU. I would argue getting out isn’t even a start. Not on its own. EU membership is a false argument.

    JohnB,
    It is easy to think that. I mean to rgard them all as a single political class etc and there is some truth there but from personal experience on almost everything the closer two groups are the more they genuinely bicker over little differences so I do think the panto is genuine. Risible but genuine. Here’s an example. A few years ago right here the Mac/PC debate stirred it’s head and all Hell was unleashed. Nobody pointed out (me included) tht they are basically the same tech and the “little differences” are just that – “little”. Nobody pointed out that they are quite similar forms of computer for example. Thee human race has a staggering capacity to get bogged down in details and that is what the political game is. It is not conspiracy as much as just human nature. It’s just like two blokes down the pub arguing vehemently for the relative merits from a shagging perspective of Charlize Theron or Halle Bery without ever having met either, having now chance of meeting either and getting tasered if they tried.

    To put it bluntly the most appalling rows tend to happen over nothing. Or almost nothing.

    The single most vitriolic row I have ever seen online was on a warbird forum and it was between Brits and Yanks over P-38 v Mosquito. It was monumental. Nobody pointed out that actually the two aircraft were (a)different, (b)on the same side and therefore (c)worked nicely together which meant (d)this was a thoroughly pointless argument.

    From my experience if you want truly marvellous ding-dong have it over something so trivial and essentially pointless it cannot be rationally resolved. That is what our politicos do all the time. They really believe that the 50% or 10% tax-bands matter and are a matter of principle of supreme importance whilst ignoring the bigger picture of the overall taxation of this country.

    For the record if either Ms Berry or Ms Theron came round my house with amorous intent then – fine. And the P-38 and Mozzie were both exceptional aircraft.

  • Johnnydub

    AngryTory – on the EU and Global Warming Mrs T said that she changed her mind and that these were her biggest mistakes…

  • Mr Ed

    She lacked the Leninist urge to eliminate her foes, although she would only have ended contracts of employment, and would not have used force except in defence.

    She was weak, and foolish, prone to vanity.

  • Tedd

    …a man who was frankly so indistinguishable from the people he purported to oppose that his ‘conservative’ government nationalised several businesses.

    This is a bit off topic, and I may get pilloried for saying it, but I don’t really understand why it’s common to associate conservatism with small government or the eschewing of policies such as the nationalizing of industries. I know that’s a popular view of conservatism today. And I’ve read Conscience of a Conservative, so I know that it’s an undercurrent of conservatism that has at least a short history. But it doesn’t seem to me that there’s anything inherent to a conservative world view that prevents either large government or even a degree of socialism, and history seems to support that conclusion (Heath being an example).

    It seems to me that conservatism at its core is three things: belief in a human nature that is largely fixed; skepticism that this human nature can be changed by anything other than an inner — usually spiritual — process; and belief that the social practices and institutions that have arisen over time to deal with the consequences of those first two issues are our best defense against them, so it’s folly to ignore or weaken those practices and institutions.

    To the extent that view of conservatism is correct, there doesn’t seem to be anything preventing conservatism from morphing into almost any ism, over time, as the norms and practices of that ism become tradition. (Consider Soviet Russia.) In that sense, Heath’s nationalizing of industry was not out of step with conservatism, if we accept the premise that nationalizing had become a normal practice in British society.

    Perhaps the quasi-libertarian view of conservatism stems from the unique American perspective, in which the tradition that conservatives are trying to defend and promote is a liberal tradition.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Maybe I’m wrong Tedd but my understanding of why conservatism was traditionally associated with smaller governments was the belief that only God was sovereign and that the government should do its best not to get in either His or man’s way, whereas socialists believe government is God and should be empowered accordingly.

  • Paul Marks

    I am indeed a Frank Meyer type conservative – and Frank Meyer was American.

    However, I am also an Edmund Burke style conservative – and he was a British Whig.

    And I am a Sir Dudley North style conservaitve – and he was a British Tory.

    To say one is a conservative means that one is supporting a tradition – the next question is (obviously) “which tradition?” as there is more than one.

    In my case – it is the tradition of freedom, in the sense of personal responsiblity, and support for civil society (private property rights).

  • Paul Marks

    The European Union is an extra layer of governmment – its follies come ON TOP OF national follies.

    Ditto and the International Convention on “human rights” (the “positive rights” parts of it) and the European Convention on human rights (the “positive rights” parts of it).

    Only an idiot (such as a the man in Kent) thinks the European Convention (and its court) is a good thing.

  • The single most vitriolic row I have ever seen online was on a warbird forum…

    Go on the photography forums and check out the Nikon vs Canon flame wars which go on for thousands of posts in relation to the slight degree of vignetting on a lens.

  • NickM

    Tim,
    I have a Sony Alpha 55.

  • Tedd

    Jaded:

    Was conservatism traditionally associated with smaller government? I’m not sure the assertion that it was is correct.

    Conservatism is certainly associated with opposition to many things that have increased the size and scope of government, but it has always seemed to me that was mostly coincidental. The things that have increased the size and scope of government in my lifetime have tended to be things that undermined social practices and institutions that conservatives defend, such as the family or personal responsibility. It was the defense of those institutions that created the opposition. Over time, because the opposition correlated well with opposition to the growth of government, the two things have come to be seen as largely the same. But I’m wondering if that isn’t a relatively recent phenomenon. And conservatives have embraced large government programs where they were consistent with the conservative philosophy I described above (such as supporting military expansion during the cold war).

    Even that is a U.S.-centric view. In the Commonwealth, conservatives have a long tradition of embracing large government programs. For example, the Hospital Insurance and Diagnostic Services Act in Canada (the progenitor of our national health “insurance” system) was implemented by a Conservative government that is widely considered to be one of the most conservative in our history. Not that that necessarily says anything about conservatism, as such; conservative parties don’t necessarily follow conservative principles any more than liberal parties necessarily follow liberal principles.

  • Sam Duncan

    “Nobody pointed out (me included) tht they are basically the same tech and the “little differences” are just that – “little”. Nobody pointed out that they are quite similar forms of computer for example.”

    I might have done. It’s a good analogy. Coming from an Amiga/Linux background, I’m always struck by how similar Macs and WinPCs are.

    To get back to the point, Charlotte and John B hit the nail on the head. Thatcher made mistakes, but for the most part she eventually recognised them. Arguably, she spent the rest of her career trying to make up for the error of the SEA.

  • Stonyground

    My parents were Methodists but, as I was growing up in the sixties and seventies, their political views were very much conservative. They were very working class but always sort of aspired to be a little better than that in their tastes and behaviour. My dad was the quiet type but I can remember my mum saying that she thought that the kind of people that vote Labour don’t really think things through.

    With regard to socialism, I tend to think that the movement, at least in the UK, did a lot to improve the lives of ordinary people in the beginning but eventually hit the buffers of economic reality. I have heard this quote being attributed to Margaret Thatcher, but I’m not really sure if she even said it, “The problem with socialists is that they always end up running out of other people’s money”. Whoever did say it hit the nail on the head as far as I can see.

  • Paul Marks

    Tedd – Edmund Burke and Disraeli are both called “conservative” by historians, they even choose to live in the same town (many decades apart) – but they were not men of the same princoples (their principles were wildly different). If both can be called “conservative” (by historians) then the word “conservative” is vague indeed.

    Stonyground – any Chruurch can be perverted. For example, by the supposedly Methodist theologian that corrupted Hillary Clinton.

    As for the quote from Mrs T.

    I believe it is ccrrect.

  • JDN

    Stonyground:

    http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=102953

    Socialist governments [...] always run out of other people’s money.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Another quotable quote from Thatcher was the one about Socialists actually wanting the poor to get poorer, as long as the rich get poorer. She was challenged by some socialist during PMQs about how the rich-poor gap had risen during her tenure, to which she responded that wealth had increased in all wage brackets so why should that matter?

    She then went further and suggested that if “inequality” was really all they cared about then surely they would like a situation where everyone got poorer, as long as the wealth gap narrowed.

    This particular quote has inflamed a lot of leftists for years. If you do a search for it you will find commentary alternately denying that they want the poor to get poorer (which begs the question of why Maggie making them richer was a problem), and some which basically admit it by using the argument that relative inequality if a bigger evil than absolute poverty – crazy huh?

    If I have 5 and you have 10, and we move to a situation where I have 8 and you have 15 that is what is called a “win win scenario”. Why should the fact that you have 5 more stop me from enjoying the fact that I have 3 more? But no, to some of these people the scenario where I end up with 3 and you end up with 6 would be preferable because it would have “reduced inequality”.

  • Phil B

    I always took the view that Conservatism was actually another name for paternalism. In other words, still controlling but not QUITE as controlling as full out socialism.

  • They ignore or wilfully misconstrue what you say, and when enough of them gather to ignore or misconstrue your points (all the while patting one another on the back for their right-on views) they seem to think they win the argument by sheer force of numbers. If you argue with facts, they simply deny your facts are true. If you provide references, they change the subject and talk about something else. If you get fed up of arguing with them, or if your comments get stuck in moderation-mode, they keep posting gloating statements about how they won long after you stop replying. Then all their pals join in and congratulate them on their awesome victory.

    I hear you. I frequented a British lefty forum (specifically, the off-topic thread on a Rugby League fansite) between 2000 and 2011, being one of their most prolific contributors. I was one of a handful of centre-right members, almost all the others were die-hard lefties who thought the old industrial towns of the 1970s were paradises and the militant unions of the era an unequivocal good. Their opinions are not worth spelling out here, you’ll know the sort: boilerplate socialism, US is evil, so is Israel, the USSR was not so bad, etc. I argued for years with this lot, and eventually stopped. Why? Because the people I was arguing with were by and large a selection of life’s losers. Most had a minimal education, those who had gone to university mainly studied rubbish, they had almost no experience outside a very narrow sphere of life, and had no value system which I could recognise. I met some of them in person, and without wanting to come across as a snob, they were a fucking mess. Overweight, bad teeth, bad skin, nasty attitudes and opinions, and one of them, who was one of my most vocal critics on the forum, had the job of training people how to use cash registers. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, but still, WTF? I realised that I would never in a million years hang out with such people in real life, so why the hell would I spend hours online with them?

    It dawned on me some time back that society represents those people who make it up, and therefore if people want to be fuckwits and live in a shithole – like the UK – then let them. I take the line that I don’t have to be part of that society, and since I have to be part of a society somewhere I might as well go to a slightly bigger shithole but earn a stack of money whilst I’m at it. With the money, I’ll insulate myself from these idiots and the society they create for themselves, specifically by buying an apartment in Thailand and minding my own business. Life’s too short for any more of that shit.

  • [...] he is making a mistake”… so I am pleased to see that I am not the only to see that the noisome celebrations of Margaret Thatcher’ death are in fact rather… [...]

  • This is a bit off topic, and I may get pilloried for saying it, but I don’t really understand why it’s common to associate conservatism with small government or the eschewing of policies such as the nationalizing of industries.

    You missed my point then. It does not matter what the labels are, what matters is that if the two options are by and large functionally interchangeable, then who the fuck cares?

  • Stonyground

    @JDN
    Thank you so much for that link, I am eternally grateful. The interview was fascinating. Significantly, she could have been talking about New Labour three decades later. For me, the part of the quote that is a keeper is this:

    “I think they’ve made the biggest financial mess that any government’s ever made in this country for a very long time, and Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money. It’s quite a characteristic of them.”